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Monday, October 24, 2011

In the Midnight Hour

Although age and circumstance are conspiring to make me follow a more traditional schedule (being a mom kicks me in the butt!), I am a night owl by nature. Always have been. It's far easier for me to stay up late than to wake up early when extra time is required in my day. I'm more likely to be awake blogging at midnight than watching the sun rise. So it really has come as little surprise to me that my children seem to share my nocturnal-leaning tendencies. Whether it's by nature or nurture is something to ponder another day.

C is strongly nocturnal, and I have some fun stories (and memories of exhaustion!), but tonight's tale is about T. When T was a baby, I learned that an interruption in his sleep pattern often heralded a developmental leap. We room-share with our babies, so when they get too active (crying *or* cooing) in the wee hours, I often take them to the living room to wait it out...so maybe Dad can get at least a moderate amount of sleep before he has to leave for work at dawn. T's first time rolling over? About 3 AM, living room floor. First time pulling himself up to stand ? Ditto. And so on.

I flashed back to those days tonight. It had been a rough day for old Mom, courtesy of  a crabby and overtired J. We finally got him conked out in the swing (see previous post) and I was feeling major stabs of guilt for all of the time I didn't spend with the other two. So I read a chapter book to them at bedtime.

The entire thing.

Okay, it was a Magic Treehouse book, but even so. It was a nice long reading session. I finally got everyone "sweet dreamed" and tucked in, and headed out to the kitchen to load the dishwasher. It wasn't long before the kids pitter-patted out to find me. I took a deep and patient breath. Long days with the baby for me mean long days without me for them. Yes, it was late. But they missed me. I'd let them stall just a little more before sending them back to bed.

T had a book with him...

this book
...and he asked me a few questions about it. First, he admitted that he knew the title because he is familiar with the book, but then turned to an illustration within the book and asked, "Why does it say FerdinandO here?" He also asked about several other words, all in illustrations, and all in Spanish.

Yeah. My reluctant reader was suddenly trying. On his own. And asking for help.

I will not lie, I was tired...both physically and emotionally. Why now? Why couldn't he show an interest in reading oh, I don't know...when I was actually trying to teach him to read?

Okay. So what, it's past 11. We are going to read.

The dear thing...he attempted a few storybooks on his shelf that were far too difficult given the skills we've worked on so far. Simple phonics are not going to help a kid through, well, words like through. I patiently watched, though, as he used his knowledge of some favorite titles to guess his way...using word length, first letters, even pictures to help him. No, he wasn't doing perfectly. But he was trying. On his terms. And using a number of tricks that up until now he has dismissed as "not reading". (Says Mom: if the context helps, embrace it!).

I hesitated. Yes, he was happy and engaged. If I pushed, would I ruin the moment? Or cement it?

I took the risk. I chose an easy-reader book. Another title with which he was familiar, but which had words that were a lot more phonics-friendly. And with only a few stumbles (and--ye Gods be praised--no self-loathing and quitting following the stumbles)...he read the book.

It was a big night. I just hope this is a harbinger of a shift in attitude toward this whole reading thing. If it takes more time, well, I'm in it for the duration. All the same, seeing him want to do it...seeing him happily try...made me feel really proud of him. And really excited to be a part of it.

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